US should volunteer to pay damages on Tubbataha Reefs—Santiago | Global News
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US should volunteer to pay damages on Tubbataha Reefs—Santiago

By: - NewsLab Lead / @MSantosINQ
/ 03:47 PM September 17, 2014
tubbataha-reef

This undated handout photo released on March 30, 2013 by Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) shows the stern of the USS Guardian before being lifted by a boat crane during its salvage operation at Tubbataha reef, in Palawan island, western Philippines. AFP PHOTO/PCG

MANILA, Philippines—The United States (US) should voluntarily offer to pay for the damages one of its ships had caused on the Tubbataha Reef National Park in 2013.

“They should just voluntarily offer to pay, I think the sum is some P8 million pesos because they destroyed part of the Tubbataha Reefs National Park,” Santiago said in a press conference Wednesday.

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The USS Guardian damaged more than 2,300 square meters of coral reefs in the Tubbataha Reefs, a Unesco World Heritage Park, after the US Navy ship ran aground there in January of that year.

The Supreme Court (SC) recently denied the petition for writ of kalikasan against the US Government but Santiago said that the US should be held liable instead under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) regarded as the Constitution of the seas.

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“(The) US government should be held responsible under article 31 of Unclos under state responsibility. It is a responsibility of every state to preserve the international environment,” Santiago said.

The US is not a party to the Unclos, an international treaty, but Santiago said that even if a country has not signed the agreement, they could be bound by it when its practice has turned into a principle of international law.

“International environmental law provides that you must pay for damage to the environment whether it was done accidentally or not,” she said. “The US government cannot use the excuse that it is not party to the Unclos. That’s an ugly position for the US who pretends that it is the champion and advocate of international environmental law.”

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TAGS: compensation, damages, Environment, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Supreme Court, Tubbataha Reefs, US, World Heritage, writ of kalikasan
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